e-Choupal: The Power of ICT for Farmers’ Empowerment in India

Sharma, Kapil D
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Choupal in Hindi language means a village gathering place. Taking this gathering place to the virtual world, ITC (one of the India’s largest and oldest business conglomerates) introduced the e – Choupal to empower rural India in the year 2000. It places computers with Internet access in rural farming villages and serves as a place of exchange of information and an e – commerce access point. It is a low cost system which focuses on the need of the rural farmers by removing their isolation and providing transparent system in their interest. // e – Choupal provides better supply chain for ITC’s food and agri businesses. It enables reach to the underserved rural markets. For rural farmers it caters new IT enabled services and business opportunities i. e. health, education, entertainment, and e – governance. It increases shareholder’s value through serving the society. The critical success factors of e – Choupal are comprehensive knowledge of rural markets, designing a win – win transaction model, leveraging the logistics channel, selection of Sanchalak (operator), evolving an appropriate user interface and bottom-up model for entrepreneurship. // The e – Choupal model shows that a large corporation can play a major role in recognizing markets and increasing the efficiency of an agricultural system. The case also uncovers the key role of information technology – in this case provided and maintained by a corporation – but utilized by local farmers. This access to information helps farmers in improving the quality of produce and obtaining better prices. Elected from the village itself, a literate farmer acts as the interface between the illiterate farmers and the computer. The model shows that a large corporation can combine a social mission and an ambitious commercial venture, that it can play a major role in rationalizing markets and increasing the efficiency of an agriculture system, and do so in ways that benefit rural communities. // The proposed case study will be covering the background, the impact, key elements of empowerment, issues, lessons, determinants for success and long term assessment of the system’s productivity and efficiency levels. // Paper ID: 80

Skills Development,Empowerment,Agriculture,Farmers,Information and Communication Technology (ICT)